Den internationella demokratiorganisationen IDEA firade 25 år den 19 november med en serie digitala internationella seminarier. Talman Andreas Norlén medverkade i ett av dessa med ett tal om demokratin i går, i dag och i framtiden. Seminariets tema var hållbar demokrati med fokus på ungdomar, demokrati och klimatförändringar.
Seminariet hölls på engelska och talmannens tal finns att läsa på engelska här. Bland de medverkande i seminariet var Kevin Casas-Zamora, IDEAS generalsekreterare, Ann Linde, utrikesminister, Peter Eriksson, minister för internationellt utvecklingssamarbete och forskare i olika panelsamtal.
Det talade ordet gäller
Representatives of member states of International IDEA,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Democracy is an ongoing process, a task that can never be fulfilled, it is a never-ceasing endeavour for a better future. On behalf of the Swedish Parliament – the Riksdag, I would like to extend our congratulations on the 25th anniversary of International IDEA – and to congratulate you on the excellent work you have done on the crucial subject of democracy.
The state of democracy varies across the globe, but despite the differences, we still need to address common challenges together. We need to learn from each other's experiences. Thus, this webinar has an important role to play as it brings us together, supplying us with the crucial tools we need in our common efforts to defend democracy at a time when it is facing challenges, and to develop it when facing changes.
The theme of this speech is Democracy and the people – in the past, present and future. I will start off in the past: The Riksdag is currently holding a four-year celebration of one hundred years of Swedish democracy.
In 1918, the first decision was taken in Parliament to introduce universal and equal suffrage. The reform was carried out following a long struggle and intensive advocacy efforts – a decision that marked the dawn of democracy in our country.
I am proud today to have this opportunity to celebrate both our democratic anniversaries. In our parliament, we strongly believe that democracy is truly worth commemorating, celebrating and vitalising – also at an international level.
Therefore, before the COVID-19 pandemic, I brought parts of the centenary celebration with me on my travels by arranging seminars on democracy. During my official visits to Belgium and Slovenia, we had the honour of cooperating with International IDEA at such seminars. It was of great value to be able to benefit from your knowledge and expertise on democracy.
International IDEA was established in a complex but hopeful time, as stated in the declaration of the founding conference: The world is entering into an age of democracy. Democratic values are becoming more and more widely accepted.
Now, the situation is more complex. There is, clearly, no lack of challenges at the present time.
The individuals engaged in the struggle for democracy one hundred years ago, fought the challenges of their time. At that time, we found ourselves at a watershed in Sweden. Long and tough negotiations on universal and equal suffrage developed between politicians, organisations, business representatives and even the King. Sweden was on the brink of taking a possible revolutionary path or of peaceful reform, before events were to pave the way toward reform.
Often, when reflecting upon historical events, we tend to take the outcome as given. But the breakthrough of democracy was not, at any point during that process, something that could be taken for granted. Nor can democracy be taken for granted today.
One hundred years ago, men and women in Sweden were struggling to gain equal civil rights. Today we face other questions, but the key issue remains the same: who has the right to be heard or to exercise power?
Another key issue is trust. One hundred years ago, the establishment had to put its trust in the voters when giving them extended rights. Today a major question in our democracies is whether the voters have, or do not have, trust in the establishment.
Trust is truly a crucial component in society and it grows when people see society functioning, when they feel that they as individuals count, and when they have knowledge.
As IDEA shows in its report The Global State of Democracy 2019, the advances and democratisation of the last four decades risk being replaced by a backlash in democratic countries. IDEA writes that democracy as an idea continues to mobilise, but that democracy in practice leaves many people disillusioned. And beyond the democracies, we see authoritarian regimes growing in strength and self-confidence.
Here we have a pressing task, and we need to deal with it together. We are currently in the midst of a pandemic which is reaping lives, destroying economies and reversing advances. Conflicts, and of course climate change, are examples of other global challenges that require a joint approach.
Furthermore, the fact that authoritarian regimes are on the rise, and the number of democracies is decreasing, constitutes a global threat that, in the long term, can harm human rights, peace and development – unless we are able to start a new wave of democratisation across the globe, and to turn the tide of the trend of authoritarianism.
Your anniversary is an opportunity not only to remember what has been achieved in the past, but also to address the present situation, and to find inspiration to take on the challenges of the future.
The expression that each generation needs to be won over to the ideals of democracy is obviously very much still true, and highly relevant today. In the democracies of the world, we need to ensure that democracy is more than just an abstract ideal, we need to ensure that it delivers substantial results. In the dictatorships of the world, we need to promote change.
When talking about democracy in the future – I would like to mention climate change as a momentous issue. Young people of today are taking to the streets to an extent we have not experienced in a long time, giving voice to their concerns and demands.
When meeting young people, I always say to them that they are needed in our society and in our democracy. They have to take part in public debate, to vote and become engaged. As a politician, I also encourage them to take part in the parties or their youth leagues, where they can learn to see the whole picture and to prioritise.
Whatever the form of engagement, engagement itself is a prerequisite for a sustainable and democratic future. People's engagement is the very core of democracy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
100 years ago, women and men struggled for democracy in Sweden and succeeded.
25 years ago, the decision was made to establish International IDEA, a very foresighted decision of the founding members. I am proud that Sweden was one of them.
Today, we look upon those victories, those achievements, and we take inspiration from the fact that they were possible. They made it.
Now it is our turn to take on our democratic tasks. We will do this, and we can succeed.
It is our responsibility to develop the democracy we inherited and to pass it on to the next generation, a strong generation that gives me hope.
Together we will promote, strengthen and develop democracy globally. In Sweden we have the saying: "A friend in need is a friend indeed". This means that helping one another is more important than ever in times of trouble. And with the challenges we face today, when democracy is both under pressure and very much needed, I am glad that International IDEA is one of our friends.
Once again, congratulations and a heartfelt thank you from the Swedish Parliament to all of you that form a part of International IDEA.